Desperate for independence from his workaholic parents, a smart but lazy teenage boy starts his own business but discovers he must take risks to succeed.
What is the MC’s goal? The logline lacks the clarity a single driving goal gives a story.
What is the inciting incident? What is the event that starts off the story and pushes the MC to take action to achieve the goal?
If his parents are workaholics then they would hardly have the time to spend with him and monitor his every move. As such the character description don’t support the motivations stated best to describe the parents differently to justify why he is desperate for independence and wants to get away from them.
“…smart but lazy…” doesn’t support him starting a business same problem as the above character description doesn’t support the action he takes. Also what business? Instead of a generic noun use a specific description i.e; selling furniture or day trading etc…
“…he must take risks to succeed.” is too vague to be in a logline what risks exactly as these will make it interesting for the audience.
Lastly there seams to be little if any cause and effect between the separate story elements and character descriptions. Perhaps use the parents business drive against them and have them send the MC away to boarding school against his wishes. Then have the MC start up a competing business to the parents in order to teach them a lesson that way you can connect the event that starts the story to his actions and goal.
Hope this helps.
Thanks Nir, valuable comments. I’m really struggling with this one as it is a low stakes dramedy. There are lots of seemingly disjointed elements that I avoid mentioning so as to not confuse. And to top it all off the character lacks a really specific goal until the midpoint. Which I know can spell story death. But I believe in the story and really want to crack the best possible logline for it.
I have looked at similar movies and their loglines aren’t compelling either, so it’s going to be a difficult task.
There are many similarities to THE WAY WAY BACK, which is summed up as:
Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.
Crossed with RISKY BUSINESS:
A Chicago teenager is looking for fun at home while his parents are away, but the situation quickly gets out of hand.
In both of them the main character has very little in the way of specific goal. Yet the stories work in their own way.
Nir, I’d love to pick you brains on this one. The basic story elements are as follows:
– Teenage kid is smart, but would rather goof around with friends and his sister.
– But he needs a car and a place to do this.
– He asks his parents, who are the opposite of him as they are highly-driven workaholics. They won’t give him anything, but say if he comes up with a business proposal they’ll back him financially.
– He goes into business with his lazy attitude, thinking it will be easy, but finds out it’s not.
– The business spirals out of control and ends up being all sorts of things, including a strip club (but this doesn’t happen until after the midpoint so I am reluctant to include it.)
To complicate things there is another big story element I skipped over – His parents decline is business proposal, but then he catches them cheating, and blackmails them for the money to get the business rolling. Not sure if this element is relevant enough to the main story to include without adding confusion.
Maybe something like:
To gain independence from his workaholic parents, a teenager turns his Model Train Club into a business, but to make a profit he must be willing to break all sorts of rules. (I still don’t like how vague it is!)
Re: Loglines that aren’t compelling, such as “The Way Way Back” and “Risky Business”
I think they are potentially misleading examples. The scripts were written by insiders, people were already working in the industry. (Check the bios of the writers on IMDB) They didn’t need loglines to their scripts read; they had at their disposal a network of friends and coworkers.
Industry outsiders who don’t have access to industry network, need a concept that grabs attention of industry insiders, a logline with a unique hook or twist.
Why blackmail his parents to get startup money? Wouldn’t a more obvious and contemporary source for startup money be crowdsourcing?
Also, it seems to me that resorting to a blackmail plot gimmick is too facile a way for him to raise money and tacky (imho). And how is the parents ethical lapses germane to the protagonist’s own character arc and story arc? I suggest that the parental problem more dramatically germane to the teen’s struggle is in their lack of faith in their own son. They don’t believe he’ll amount to anything. That’s why they won’t fund his venture. Ergo, through his objective goal he’s going to prove them wrong. He can succeed — and without their help.
(One way to work that is to play their refusal off against how they treat another child, a rival character for parental attention — and funding. Or the ‘model’ teen of another family whom his parents keep throwing in his face as the kid he ought to be, the one they wish they had.)